Career Development

What Does an Assistant Pastor Do?

Find out what an assistant pastor does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an assistant pastor.

Assistant pastors are clergy members who assist senior pastors with the day-to-day operations of their church. They may preach on occasion, but they spend most of their time performing administrative and pastoral duties such as leading worship services, counseling parishioners, and managing other staff members.

Assistant pastors often have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders—they’re expected to perform all of these tasks while also learning from their senior pastor how to eventually take over that role themselves.

Assistant Pastor Job Duties

Assistant pastors typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Leading members of the congregation in prayer during weekly services
  • Promoting spiritual growth by providing counseling to members of the church who are struggling with personal issues or life transitions
  • Conducting special ceremonies such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals as needed
  • Overseeing the general operations of the church, including managing staff schedules, planning special events, and ordering supplies
  • Teaching Sunday school classes and leading Bible studies
  • Assisting the senior pastor in administering the church’s programs, policies, and facilities
  • Coordinating youth ministries, including leading youth group meetings and planning activities for teens
  • Conducting weddings and funerals, often working with other clergy members such as priests or pastors
  • Assisting with publicity efforts, such as writing articles for the church newsletter

Assistant Pastor Salary & Outlook

Assistant pastor salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and location of the church.

  • Median Annual Salary: $49,500 ($23.8/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

The employment of assistant pastors is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

The number of new churches and the need for additional clergy will drive demand for assistant pastors. However, the growth in the number of nondenominational churches may limit employment growth for these workers because some nondenominational churches do not require their clergy to have formal theological training.

Assistant Pastor Job Requirements

Assistant pastors typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most assistant pastors have at least a bachelor’s degree in theology or religious studies. Some assistant pastors choose to pursue a master’s degree in theology or religious studies to further their education and increase their employment opportunities.

Training & Experience: Pastoring is a highly specialized role, and many churches will require that you complete a training program before you begin as an assistant pastor. These programs can last from a few weeks to a few months and will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your role. Some churches will also require that you complete a training program before you can become a pastor.

Certifications & Licenses: A license or certification is not usually a requirement to be a church assistant pastor, but it can be helpful in finding a position.

Assistant Pastor Skills

Assistant pastors need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: As an assistant pastor, you may be required to communicate with members of the congregation, the senior pastor and other church staff. Effective communication skills, including active listening, can help you to build relationships with others and convey important information. You may also use communication skills to write sermons, emails and other documents.

Leadership skills: A potential assistant pastor needs to be able to lead a congregation, a small group and a team of volunteers. Leadership skills can help a potential assistant pastor be successful in their role. Leadership skills can include the ability to motivate others, delegate tasks and inspire others to work toward a common goal.

Teaching skills: As an assistant pastor, you may be asked to teach Sunday school classes, lead a Bible study or teach a youth group. Having strong teaching skills can help you be an effective assistant pastor. You can use your teaching skills to help you explain the Bible to adults or children, lead a prayer service or teach a lesson on how to live a Christian life.

Organizational skills: As an assistant pastor, you may be responsible for planning and leading a variety of church programs and events. Having strong organizational skills can help you manage your time and responsibilities effectively. It can also help you to be prepared for meetings and events, which can help you to be a more effective member of the church staff.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As an assistant pastor, you may be called upon to comfort members of your congregation who are grieving or experiencing other emotional distress. Empathy can help you to relate to others and understand their needs. It can also help you to provide the right words to help someone feel better.

Assistant Pastor Work Environment

Assistant pastors typically work in churches, assisting the lead pastor with various duties. They may also work in schools, hospitals, or other settings. Most assistant pastors work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. They often work on evenings and weekends to attend church events and meetings. Assistant pastors typically have a lot of contact with people and must be able to work well with others. They must also be able to handle stress and be emotionally stable.

Assistant Pastor Trends

Here are three trends influencing how assistant pastors work. Assistant pastors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Church

The need for more diversity in the church is a trend that is being driven by the changing demographics of the United States. As more and more people from different backgrounds move to America, the church needs to be prepared to serve them.

Assistant pastors can help churches become more diverse by helping them understand the needs of different cultural groups and how to reach them. They can also help churches create a more welcoming environment for all members.

More Focus on Community Building

As churches focus more on community building, assistant pastors will need to develop skills in areas such as leadership development, conflict resolution, and team building.

These are just a few of the many trends that are shaping the role of the assistant pastor in today’s church landscape. By understanding these trends, assistant pastors can prepare themselves for the future and find ways to contribute to their church’s mission.

How to Become an Assistant Pastor

A career as an assistant pastor can be a great way to get your foot in the door of ministry. As an assistant pastor, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from more experienced leaders and develop your skills in areas such as preaching, counseling, and leading worship. You’ll also have the chance to serve the people of God in many different ways, which will give you a better understanding of what it means to be a minister.

As you progress in your career, you may want to consider becoming a lead pastor or even starting your own church. No matter where your journey takes you, the experience you gain as an assistant pastor will help prepare you for any future ministry opportunities.

Advancement Prospects

Assistant pastors typically advance in their careers by taking on more responsibility at their church, becoming more involved in their community, and developing their preaching and counseling skills. As they gain experience, they may be promoted to associate pastor or senior pastor. In larger churches, assistant pastors may also specialize in a particular area, such as youth ministry or music ministry.

Assistant Pastor Job Description Example

The Assistant Pastor will provide support to the Lead Pastor in all areas of ministry, with a focus on discipleship, evangelism, and small groups. He or she will also be responsible for leading and developing a team of volunteers. The ideal candidate will have a passion for discipleship and evangelism, as well as experience leading and developing teams. He or she will also be a gifted communicator, both in written and oral form. The Assistant Pastor will be a key member of the pastoral team, working together to provide vision and direction for the church.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Preach sermons and lead worship services that are theologically sound and engaging
  • Teach Bible studies or Sunday school classes as needed
  • Provide pastoral care to church members, including visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and homebound individuals
  • officiate weddings and funerals as needed
  • Help develop and implement short- and long-term plans for the church
  • Work with the senior pastor to develop and maintain a budget
  • Supervise and train office staff and volunteers
  • Serve as a liaison between the church and the community
  • Perform administrative duties as needed, such as preparing correspondence and maintaining records
  • Participate in continuing education opportunities to keep abreast of current trends in ministry
  • Attend denominational meetings and other functions as needed
  • Be available to work flexible hours, including some evenings and weekends

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in theology or related field
  • 3-5 years experience in ministry, with a focus on assistant pastor roles
  • Proven leadership ability within a church setting
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in theology or related field
  • 5+ years experience in ministry, with a focus on assistant pastor roles
  • Experience leading a team of staff or volunteers
  • Bilingual (English/Spanish)


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